When Melbourne chaps Augie March went on an indefinite hiatus five years ago, there were few people who would have held out much hope for them reuniting. Augie March have never been one to play by other people’s rules though, and have just released a new album, Havens Dumb. CHRIS HAVERCROFT reports.
Augie March have had a career trajectory that would be the envy of many a band. From the small clubs of Melbourne they grew a following by word of mouth that would eventually see them pack out stadiums and grab awards on the way.
In spite of their success, they were always enigmatic and appeared somewhat uncomfortable with their fame and themselves. The five-year break gave all of the member of Augie March the chance to try other musical pursuits and to have different priorities. When the band got back together some things had changed. Lead man Glenn Richards has moved to Hobart which makes convening for rehearsals and recording a little more challenging and the band have taken on some of the management and administration duties associated with being Augie March.
“Without good management we would never have had the success we did,” says drummer, David Williams. “Now we aren’t on a major label and the machinations that are intrinsic in a big company aren’t there so we have to do all of that stuff ourselves. It has always been a challenge and it always will be. Isn’t it often said that creative types aren’t the most organised and their bedrooms are a mess?”
This latest chapter of Augie March sees the band being in a position where they are 100 per cent responsible for their own success or failure from this point. There was no clandestine intention to keep the making of the album quiet, the band just wanted to make sure that they sharpened the axe before they took the first swing. As a result, Havens Dumb took over two years for Augie March to create, but after the unrest that was evident when the group were recording 2008’s Watch Me Disappear they can be excused for taking a more gentle approach.
“We were the master of the destiny on this record, knowing that it was 100 per cent ourselves with Glenn (Richards, vocals/guitar) being in the producer’s chair. I am sure that it was great for Glenn to have control and to not have to negotiate with another party along the way. The past is never forgotten with Augie March, as there are complex individuals and complex personalities, so you can still see the scars from previous recordings. It has been difficult because the process has been stretched out, so each time a challenge comes up we have had to negotiate those as we go along.”
Five years is a long time to be away from the music industry, particularly when things have changed so significantly. When Augie March were last releasing records Myspace was the cutting edge social media, and nowadays the way that musicians connect with their fans is very different. There is a lot of white noise and a lot of chatter, so it takes a bit to be able to rise above that.
“Being established, things are a bit different for us,” Williams says, “but I feel you need to be judicious in terms of the live show and that quality is more important than quantity. If you’ve seen us play live we are a pretty enigmatic live band. We need to make sure that the difference between our best and our worst gets smaller. We’ve been working on it pretty hard but until you get over that fluoro line you don’t find out. It’s all about risk management with the personalities in the band. Its been five years and everyone in the band is five years weirder, let’s just say that.”